Step 3: Give Other Party Copies

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California law requires that the former spouse or partner being asked to pay support be given formal notice that the legal process has been started. This is called "service of process."  In fact, the judge cannot make any permanent orders or decisions unless and until that person has been properly “served.” Opens new window

It is very important to make sure the other person gets their copy of the court forms in the right way.

To view a short video called “Service of Process,” click here. Opens new window


How to serve court forms:

There are two ways that copies of the documents you have filed with the court can be “served” (given to the person who is being asked to pay support.) These are:

  • By personal service Opens new window

    A person over 18 who is not connected with the court case can give the forms to the person. (Special note: you MUST use this way to serve the forms if these are the first forms you filed in this case..)
  • By first class mail (called service by mail) Opens new window

A person over 18 who is not connected with the court case can mail the forms to the other person. (Note: If the case has been going on awhile, and other papers have been served by personal delivery, then these support forms may be mailed.)

Service of Process checklist:

1. What Needs to Be Served?

  • A copy of all of the forms you filled out and filed with the court;
  • A blank Responsive Declaration to Request for Order (Form FL-320) Opens new window ;

  • A blank Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150) Opens new window

2. Who has to be served?

  • The respondent (the former spouse or partner being asked to pay support).
  • If either of the former spouses or partners is receiving public assistance, the agency which provides the assistance is to be served by mail.

3. When do the papers need to be served?

  • If personal service is used, the Request for Order must be served at least 16 court working days before the court hearing.
  • If service by mail is used, the papers must be served 16 court working days, plus 5 calendar days, to allow for the mail delivery before the court hearing.
Remember: You cannot serve your own papers. Another adult (18 years or older) who is not involved in the case could be asked to serve the papers.

Go on to Step 4: Tell the court that your papers have been served. To learn how to do this, click here.


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